Whittley Art sale will boost community food project in Keith

ALMOST 200 PAINTINGS of iconic north-east scenes are being auctioned off to raise money for a community food project run by Moray churches.

Some of the proceeds of the sale of original art work by landscape artist Ian Whittley next month will be used to buy a new cooker, dishwasher and kitchen storage facilities for Keith North Church.

The equipment will enable Kirk members to expand the Tuesday Table lunch club, which caters for around 60 people on the local foodbank distribution list, which include the homeless and elderly people living in isolation.

Tesco in Keith provide the club’s 12 volunteer cooks, servers and kitchen helpers with fresh produce that would otherwise go out of date and congregation members supply basic cooking ingredients. A local charity shop provides a free clothing service and soups and sweets are delivered to people who are unable to attend the weekly club.

Rev Alastair Gray, minister of Keith North, Newmill, Boharm and Rothiemay churches, said he was delighted that Mr Whittley had agreed to offer 166 watercolour, oil, pastel and acrylic paintings for sale.

The artwork will be exhibited over the next fortnight in the Keith Pop-Up Shop and the Kirk Shop before the auction in North Church Hall on October 13.

Mr Gray said he hoped the sale, which features scenes including The Auld Brig in Keith, and Ben Aigan, Bennachie, Ben Rinnes, coastal views and the Spey Valley, would raise around £5,000 for the lunch club.

He added: “The Tuesday Table was started after a foodbank survey found that lots of people in the area did not have any cooking facilities at home.

“We feel we are meeting an overlooked need in the community, and are helping Keith live up to its motto of ‘The Friendly Toon’. We aim to provide good food and good company and everyone is welcome.  There are devotional films and music played in the church for anyone who would like some quiet time.”

Mr Whittley, 86, has been one of the foremost landscape artists in the north-east for more than 20 years and has exhibited at the Still Life Gallery in Aberlour and the Glenisla Gallery in Keith.

The retired HM Customs and Excise officer, working amongst the whisky industry, has sold his work across the world. A self-taught artist and leading member of the Cullen Art Group, he lived in Keith for nearly 50 years before recently moving to Linlithgow in West Lothian to be closer to his family.

His son, Trevor Whittley, said: “My father is very supportive of any work to help the needy in and around Keith where he lived for most of his life. He loved the local scenery which enabled him to indulge his lifelong hobby.

“His works have a freshness being primarily done from real life and manage to capture in a very realistic way the natural beauty of the countryside.

“My father was involved in providing social support for the local community in a very quiet way for many years so he is delighted that some of the proceeds from the sale will support Tuesday Table.”

The proceeds of the auction will be shared between the church and the Whittley family.